Things to Watch in Boston as Trade Deadline Approaches

It’s no secret that the Boston Red Sox are struggling this season. They started out strong, but after just a few weeks of play, they had secured last place in the American League East, where they currently reside. With the trade deadline coming up on July 31st, you can be assured that management for Boston is trying to secure a better second half of the season, and if that means sending a few underachievers to other teams for more promising talent, then that is what will happen. There are a few players that have definitely surprised fans this year on how poorly they’ve performed, and these are the players probably up first on the chopping block. Let’s look at a few of them.

The big name that is most likely to go before July 31st is Mike Napoli. Napoli was a big surprise in 2013 when the Sox won the World Series, but hasn’t done much since. The problem with getting rid of Napoli is that he will be hard to get any positive return on. Other teams have seen how poorly he’s performed the last season and a half and will not be likely to offer anyone of substance for him. Despite being the starting first baseman, he’s only hitting .192 this season. David Ortiz could easily replace him at this position, but it’s very unlikely that the Sox will get anyone to bite on taking him. Expect Napoli to stay where he is.

Next is Clay Buchholz. He has one of the bigger contracts on the Red Sox right now, but is underperforming based upon what he’s being paid. At $12.25 million this season, a lot more was expected of him. He was expected to take charge and lead, and that just hasn’t happened. He has won his last four games, which is a help, but it’s more of a help for the Red Sox when it comes to gaining leverage with other teams. Buchholz does have potential, but it’s starting to become clear that he’s not a good fit in Boston. Because of his big contract, though, Boston would need to get somebody worth quite a bit to the team. The tradeoffs are tough here because he does have potential and they have invested much money into him. Investing more might be worth it. But then again, it might not.

Koji Uehara is also a consideration. As far as big name players go, Uehara is probably the most likely to be traded. He’s been great for the Sox and was a key component of their 2013 World Series victory, but he’s now 40 years old and his best days as a closer are probably behind him. The Sox are paying him $9 million this year, so a lot has been invested in him, but there’s very little upside on keeping him in Boston. He has recorded 18 saves this season with 32 strikeouts, putting him in a good position for closers in the AL, but he’s clearly on the downhill side of his career. Getting him in return for a younger player with more forward momentum will only benefit the Red Sox, even if it means losing some money over the short term.

Don’t forget about Shane Victorino, either. He’s been very unreliable for Boston, and although he’s clearly talented, he hasn’t performed this year. He’s batting .258 this season, which isn’t bad for him, but he has only played 52 games over the last two years. There’s no point in keeping him on the team if he isn’t going to produce, and he would likely be a better fit elsewhere.